The struggle to ascend to the throne following the death of the Emir of Lafia Alhaji Isa Mustapha Agwai l and the Chairman of Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs is said to be getting tense by the day. This is because no one knows who is next in line among the 18 claimants to the throne from the two ruling houses of Dallah Dunama and Ari Dunama, one month after the death of the emir.
Governor Umaru Almakura had earlier told Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Chindo Yamusa III, who is the Vice Chairman of Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs in his palace that his administration was studying the accession process and shall announce the successor to the Lafia throne after a thorough review, but did specify the date.
The Chiefs Appointment and Deposition Law (Cap 20) under the old Plateau State Gazette of July 1986 approved the report of a committee appointed in 1985 to inquire into the controversy on the eligibility to the stool of the Emir of Lafia. Subsection 1 of the Appointment and Deposition of Chiefs (Appointment of the Emir of Lafia), Order, said “the Emir of Lafia shall be chosen from and among the descendants of Ari Dunama and Dallah Dunama houses rotationally and which houses shall constitute the two ruling houses of Lafia.”
It further said “Notwithstanding the provision of subsection 1, of this section, the Emir of Lafia may be chosen from any ruling house where if it appears to the traditional selectors that the ruling house whose turn it is to produce an emir, has no suitable candidate.”
Knowledgeable sources in Lafia have said the new emir would emerge after the presidential and governorship elections scheduled for February.
The late emir was a descendant of Ari Dunama house and by virtue of the existing law; the new emir may perhaps emerge from the Dallah Dunama ruling house. Nonetheless, many candidates from both houses were eligible and have indicated their interests for the stool.
Contenders from the Dallah Dunama house include Alhaji Abdullahi Yusufu Musa II, Alhaji Maisallau Musa II, Alhaji Ishaku Dauda, Alhaji Muhammad Makama Dunama, Justice Sidi Dauda Bage, Alhaji Mohammed Waziri Hamza and Mallam Mustafa Yahuza Musa II. Others are Alhaji Dunama Abubakar Ahmed Musa II, Alhaji Abdullahu Muhammad Salihu, Alhaji Safiyanu Bage, Aliyu Muhammad Abdullahi, Idris Yusuf Musa II, Alhaji Abbas Ramalan Musa II, Suleiman Mohammed Moyi Dan Nana, Alhaji Muhammad Aminu Yusuf Jaje and Abdullahi Musa Hassan.
There are two contenders from the Ari Dunama house namely; Alhaji Isa Mustafa and Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu M. Agwai.
The law has mandated five Lafia Emirate Council members to elect the next emir among those who believe they hold the lawful right to the throne. The emir is chosen by voting in conjunction with the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, which will subsequently convey the election result to the governor for endorsement.
The law said, “The traditional selectors of the Emir of Lafia shall be the persons holding the following traditional offices; Liman of Lafia, Makongiji of Lafia, Moyi of Lafia, Salanke of Lafia and Sarkin Pada of Lafia.”
Both the government and the council are said to be nonaligned in the selection process and keep information about the matter secret.
Makongiji of Lafia, said to be the most senior member of the emirate, had in several instances decline comments on the succession and hasn’t replied text messages.
Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Haruna Illiya Osegba could not be reached and hasn’t replied text message about reason for the delay in the selection process.
A reliable source who would not want to be named said eleven candidates have withdrawn as at Friday, leaving seven and no reason is given on why they quit the race. The source also said more contenders are likely to quit before the selection date is fixed.